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"The Spirit of Capitalism" answers a fundamental question of economics, a question neither economists nor economic historians have been able to answer: what are the reasons (rather than just the conditions) for sustained economic growth? Taking her title from Max Weber's famous study on the same subject, Liah Greenfeld focuses on the problem of motivation behind the epochal change in behavior, which from the sixteenth century on has reoriented one economy after another from subsistence to profit, transforming the nature of economic activity. A detailed analysis of the development of economic consciousness in England, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States allows her to argue that the motivation, or "spirit," behind the modern, growth-oriented economy was not the liberation of the "rational economic actor," but rather nationalism. Nationalism committed masses of people to an endless race for national prestige and thus brought into being the phenomenon of economic competitiveness.

Nowhere has economic activity been further removed from the rational calculation of costs than in the United States, where the economy has come to be perceived as the end-all of political life and the determinant of all social progress. American "economic civilization" spurs the nation on to ever-greater economic achievement. But it turns Americans into workaholics, unsure of the purpose of their pursuits, and leads American statesmen to exaggerate the weight of economic concerns in foreign policy, often to the detriment of American political influence and the confusion of the rest of the world.

Joseph Ben-David died twenty-five years ago, in January 1986. An eminent sociologist of science, and a co-founder of this sub-discipline, he was only sixty-five years old. Few social scientists are remembered after they die and can no longer parlay their influence into the goods of this world for colleagues and acquaintances. This was not Ben-David's fate. His work continues to be taught and referred to by scholars spread far and wide (in terms of both countries and disciplines). His students never forgot him, his books were republished, and his essays appeared in new collections. Ben-David's legacy includes ideas and ideals. Its central tenet is the autonomy of science, its right--and duty--to be value-free. Scholarship oriented to any goal other than the accumulation of objective knowledge about empirical reality, for him, was science no longer and did not have its authority. In this light, the life of scholarship was one of moral dedication, with nothing less than the fate of liberal democratic society depending on it. And for science to thrive, the university, its home, had to be the embodiment of the cardinal virtue of this society: the virtue of civility. In the spirit of Ben-David, believing that scholarly debate advances common good, and rational discourse wins whichever way arguments in it are settled, this festschrift debates such core issues as the nature of science, its changing definition and position in Western society, the forms of organization optimal for scientific creativity, and the ability of the research university to foster scientific growth, while also performing its educational role.
Joseph Ben-David died twenty-five years ago, in January 1986. An eminent sociologist of science, and a co-founder of this sub-discipline, he was only sixty-five years old. Few social scientists are remembered after they die and can no longer parlay their influence into the goods of this world for colleagues and acquaintances. This was not Ben-David’s fate. His work continues to be taught and referred to by scholars spread far and wide (in terms of both countries and disciplines). His students never forgot him, his books were republished, and his essays appeared in new collections. Ben-David’s legacy includes ideas and ideals. Its central tenet is the autonomy of science, its right—and duty—to be value-free. Scholarship oriented to any goal other than the accumulation of objective knowledge about empirical reality, for him, was science no longer and did not have its authority. In this light, the life of scholarship was one of moral dedication, with nothing less than the fate of liberal democratic society depending on it. And for science to thrive, the university, its home, had to be the embodiment of the cardinal virtue of this society: the virtue of civility. In the spirit of Ben-David, believing that scholarly debate advances common good, and rational discourse wins whichever way arguments in it are settled, this festschrift debates such core issues as the nature of science, its changing definition and position in Western society, the forms of organization optimal for scientific creativity, and the ability of the research university to foster scientific growth, while also performing its educational role.
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